John Redwood posted this on Facebook.
I think it deserves WIDE reading. It is the same position scientology takes, and they too appealed the decision to turn over the incriminating preclear folders of Laura Dieckman in her civil case to the USSC. Thankfully, they did NOT win. It is my sincere hope that Watchtower is unsuccessful in this effort to overturn a decision against them.
John said the following (I added a link to the petition):
Jehovah’s Witnesses are appealing to the Supreme Court of the United States, but this time it has nothing to do with preaching or saluting the flag. [The petition to the USSC can be found here.]
It’s all about child abuse.
Specifically, the protection (or cover-up) of information, documents, and testimony of persons involved in cases of child abuse.
I will be covering this story in the coming weeks and months, but I thought I would share some of this news and try to distill it down as simply as I can.
I’d like to point out first that Watchower has appealed to the Supreme Court in connection with their loss of yet another California child abuse case. The chance that Watchtower’s appeal will be heard by the Supreme Court is slim, but anything is possible.
What brought this about?
There are many ongoing civil child abuse cases in California. One such case is J.W. versus Watchtower. J.W. happens to be the initials for the victim of former JW elder Gilbert Simental, who went on a spree of molestation which touched the lives of numerous victims.
As with other cases, the plaintiff demanded that Watchtower turn over to the court a database of child abuse cases known to be maintained by Watchtower of New York.
In this particular case, because Watchtower failed to turn over the documents in a timely manner, attorneys asked for a default judgment of just over 4 million dollars.
The court agreed with the plaintiff and entered a default judgment in that amount. Watchtower was required to post a bond of more than 6 million dollars while their appeal was pending.
Watchtower lost their appeal, and the decision of the court was upheld. This decision is final- with one exception.
Watchtower has decided to appeal to the United States Supreme court on the basis that their judicial hearings related to child abuse matters are “confidential intra-faith communications” and that they do not, and should not, reveal those communications or documents to anyone, including civil courts.
I’d like to make it very clear what Watchtower is doing here. They are fighting for their right NOT to allow civil authorities to dictate what is confidential, and what is not confidential.
All of this is in relation to their claim that elders do not have the right or duty to report child abuse to the authorities.
Watchtower overtly lies to their members by claiming that they obey secular laws, except when they conflict with God’s laws.
Yet they break the law every single time by advising elders NOT to report child abuse to the authorities.
It does NOT matter whether child abuse occurs in a mandatory reporting state- elders STILL do not report to the police because Watchtower has told them that ALL of their communications are protected by clergy-penitent privilege.
This is false- and it is exactly why they are losing tens of millions of dollars in child abuse civil cases. Watchtower advises elders to break the law.
And now they want the Supreme Court of the United States to agree with them.
The claim that the state of California has unfairly targeted Jehovah’s Witnesses and “intruded upon matters of church governance.”
How does compliance with mandatory child abuse reporting laws conflict with God’s laws? It doesn’t. This is a fabrication of Watchtower attorneys working for the Governing Body, and it’s become quite clear that they feel that compliance with these civil laws will spell disaster for their religion.
And they might be right.
If Jehovah’s Witnesses did the right thing and complied with the law, they would lose the tight grip of control over their elder bodies in ways which frighten the hell out of them.
There is a whole lot more to this story as well as the underlying cases involved, but I wanted to let you know what’s going on.
Attorneys for J.W. (the abuse victim) will be filing an opposition to Watchtower’s appeal in August, and we should have a decision from the Supreme Court by October on whether they will accept Jehovah’s Witnesses appeal for review.
It will be interesting to see if other religious organizations support the JW’s in this endeavor. In the past, the “fringe” of religious practice (like JW’s, scientology and Christian Science) have been supported by “mainstream” religions as they see the erosion of rights of ANY religious organization, no matter how much they disagree with their theology, to be a threat to THEIR practice. The fringe religions are “cannon fodder” that help protect the big churches. Given the enormous influence of the religious right in politics at this time (and now on the Supreme Court), the chances of this “protect religions at all cost” legal Hail Mary are, unfortunately, significantly increased.
The battle to hold organizations who use their faith as a shield against secular law rages on. Using the sanctity of religion as an excuse to not be held accountable for crimes, especially against children, is abhorrent to me. Freedom of religion is a cherished right. But freedom to harm and abuse in the name of religion should never be tolerated.